How to Make Italian Guanciale Guide

Italian Guanciale is a type of cured meat that is widely used in Italian cuisine. It is made from pork jowl or cheek, which is rubbed with a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices, and then hung to dry for several weeks. Guanciale is a key ingredient in many classic Italian dishes, including spaghetti alla carbonara, bucatini all’amatriciana, and pasta alla gricia.

To make Italian Guanciale at home, there are a few key steps that need to be followed. First, you need to choose the right cut of meat, which should be fresh and of high quality. Next, you need to prepare a curing mixture that includes salt, sugar, and spices, and rub it all over the meat. The meat is then hung to dry in a cool, dry place for several weeks, until it is firm and slightly darker in color.

Once the Guanciale is ready, it can be sliced thinly and used in a variety of dishes. It adds a rich, savory flavor to pasta dishes, soups, and stews, and can also be used to flavor vegetables and other ingredients. In addition to being delicious, Guanciale is also a good source of protein and healthy fats.

Piero’s Recipe from the video:

  • Ingredients Part 1:
  • 1 Pigs Cheek
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • Fresh Rosemary, Thyme & Marjoram
  • Ingredients Part 2:
  • Can of beer to wash it off after a week
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons of Fine Sea Salt
  • 3 teaspoons coarse Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fine Black Pepper
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What is Guanciale?

Guanciale is a type of Italian charcuterie made from cured pork jowl or cheek. It is a specialty of central Italy, particularly in the Lazio region, where it is a key ingredient in many traditional dishes, such as spaghetti all’amatriciana and pasta carbonara.

Unlike pancetta, which is made from pork belly, guanciale has a distinct flavor and texture that comes from the meat’s location on the pig’s head. The jowl is a fattier cut than the belly, which gives guanciale its rich, buttery taste and silky texture.

To make guanciale, the pork jowl is rubbed with a blend of salt and spices, such as black pepper, hot chili, and dried rosemary, and then left to cure for several weeks. The result is a flavorful, savory meat that is perfect for adding depth and complexity to a variety of dishes.

The quality of the meat used to make guanciale is crucial to the final product’s taste and texture. Many Italian producers source their pork from local farmers who raise heritage breeds of pigs known for their superior flavor and quality.

Overall, guanciale is a delicious and versatile ingredient that adds depth and complexity to a range of dishes. Whether you’re making a classic carbonara or experimenting with new recipes, guanciale is a must-try for any fan of Italian cuisine.

Ingredients Needed

To make Italian Guanciale, one needs a few basic ingredients. These include just the ingredients listed above, you do not use things like Instacure No. 2 for purely natural Italian-made Guanciale. Other optional ingredients include pepper, sage, garlic, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, and sea salt.

One of the most important ingredients in making Guanciale is salt. Salt is used to cure the meat and helps to preserve it. Kosher salt or sea salt is often used in the curing process.

Pepper is another important ingredient that adds flavor to the meat. Some recipes also call for the use of sage, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to add additional flavor to the meat.

Instacure No. 2 is a curing agent that contains nitrites and nitrates. It is used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and to give the meat a red color. It is important to note that some people prefer not to use curing agents, and it is possible to make Guanciale without them.

Garlic powder can also be used to add flavor to the meat. However, it is important to use it sparingly as it can overpower the other flavors.

Overall, the key to making great Guanciale is to use high-quality ingredients and to follow the recipe carefully. With the right ingredients and preparation, anyone can make delicious Italian Guanciale at home.

Choosing the Right Meat

To make Italian guanciale, it is important to choose the right meat. Guanciale is traditionally made from the jowl or cheek of the pig. This cut of meat is fatty and flavorful, making it ideal for curing.

When selecting the meat for guanciale, it is important to find a high-quality cut from a reputable butcher. Look for meat that is fresh and well-marbled, with a good balance of fat and meat. The jowl bacon should be thick and uniform in shape, with no visible signs of discoloration or spoilage.

In addition to the jowl bacon, some recipes may call for other cuts of pork, such as back fat or prosciutto. Back fat is the layer of fat that runs along the pig’s back, and it is often used in cured meats to add moisture and flavor. Prosciutto is a dry-cured ham that is often used in Italian cooking, and it can add a rich, salty flavor to guanciale.

When selecting back fat or prosciutto for guanciale, it is important to choose high-quality cuts from a reputable source. Look for back fat that is fresh and free from any visible signs of spoilage or discoloration. Prosciutto should be well-aged and have a deep, rich color.

Finally, some recipes may call for the addition of lardo, which is a type of cured pork fat. Lardo is often used to add flavor and moisture to cured meats, and it can be a delicious addition to guanciale. When selecting lardo, look for a high-quality cut that is well-cured and free from any visible signs of spoilage or discoloration.

Overall, choosing the right meat is essential for making delicious Italian guanciale. By selecting high-quality cuts from a reputable source, you can ensure that your guanciale is flavorful, moist, and perfectly cured.

The Curing Process

To make Italian Guanciale, the curing process is crucial. Curing is the process of preserving meat by using salt and other ingredients to draw out moisture, prevent bacteria growth, and add flavor. The curing process requires careful attention to temperature and humidity levels to ensure the meat is safe to eat.

The curing process for Guanciale involves rubbing the pork jowl with a blend of salt, sugar, and spices, such as black pepper, juniper, red pepper flakes, mustard seed, star anise, and allspice. The meat is then placed in a cool, humid environment, such as a fridge or basement, to cure for several weeks.

During the curing process, the temperature and humidity levels must be carefully monitored to ensure that the meat is safe to eat. The ideal temperature for curing meat is between 55-65°F (12-18°C), and the humidity level should be around 60-70%. If the temperature is too high, the meat may spoil, and if it is too low, the curing process may take longer than necessary. Similarly, if the humidity is too high, the meat may develop mold, and if it is too low, the meat may dry out too quickly.

As the meat cures, it will lose weight due to moisture loss. This weight loss is a natural part of the curing process and is necessary to create the desired texture and flavor profile of Guanciale. The amount of weight loss will depend on the size of the pork jowl and the length of the curing process.

Overall, the curing process for Guanciale is a delicate balance of temperature, humidity, and time. With careful attention to these factors, anyone can create delicious, homemade Guanciale that is perfect for adding flavor to a variety of dishes.

Cooking with Guanciale

Guanciale is a popular Italian cured meat made from pork cheek that is widely used in Italian cuisine. It is a fatty meat that is rich in umami flavor and is commonly used in pasta dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all’amatriciana.

When cooking with guanciale, it is important to note that it is much fattier than bacon and requires less cooking time. The meat should be sliced into thin strips or diced into small pieces before cooking. It is typically cooked over low heat until the fat has rendered and the meat is crispy.

One classic dish that uses guanciale is pasta carbonara. To make this dish, the guanciale is cooked until crispy and then added to a mixture of eggs, cheese, and black pepper. The hot pasta is then added to the mixture, and the heat from the pasta cooks the eggs, creating a creamy sauce.

Another popular dish that uses guanciale is spaghetti all’amatriciana. In this dish, the guanciale is cooked with onions, garlic, and tomatoes to create a flavorful sauce. The sauce is then served over spaghetti and topped with grated pecorino cheese.

Guanciale can also be used in other pasta dishes like rigatoni with shiso pesto, guanciale, and amatriciana sauce, or potato, mint, and pecorino ravioli with guanciale. It can also be used to add flavor to soups or stews, like in pasta alla gricia, which is made with guanciale, pecorino cheese, and black pepper.

When cooking with guanciale, it is important to note that it is a very fatty meat and can easily become greasy if not cooked properly. To prevent this, it is recommended to soak the guanciale in brine for a few hours before cooking to remove some of the excess fat. Additionally, guanciale can be smoked to add even more flavor to dishes.

Health Aspects of Guanciale

Guanciale is a type of cured meat that is made from pork jowl (cheek). It is a popular ingredient in Italian cuisine, particularly in the regions of Umbria and Lazio. While guanciale is known for its rich flavor and unique texture, it is important to consider its health aspects.

Fat Content

Guanciale is a high-fat food, with a 100-gram serving containing approximately 60 grams of fat. This makes it a food that should be consumed in moderation, particularly for those who are watching their fat intake.

Weight Loss

While guanciale is not a food that is typically associated with weight loss, it can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. It is important to keep portion sizes in mind and to balance the consumption of high-fat foods with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods.

Sodium Content

Guanciale is a cured meat, which means that it contains a high amount of sodium. It is important to be mindful of sodium intake, particularly for those who have high blood pressure or other health concerns related to sodium consumption.

Nutritional Benefits

While guanciale is not a particularly nutrient-dense food, it does contain a small amount of protein and iron. It is important to remember, however, that guanciale should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods.

In summary, guanciale is a high-fat food that should be consumed in moderation. While it is not a food that is typically associated with weight loss, it can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. It is important to be mindful of portion sizes and to balance the consumption of high-fat foods with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods.

Where to Buy Guanciale

Guanciale is a specialty Italian cured meat that is typically made from pork jowls. While it may not be as widely available as other cured meats, it can be found at a variety of specialty food stores, Italian markets, and online retailers.

For those living in the United States, some popular options for purchasing guanciale include:

  • Eataly: This Italian marketplace has locations in several major cities across the country and offers a wide selection of Italian specialty foods, including guanciale.
  • Supermarket Italy: This online retailer specializes in Italian food products and offers a variety of guanciale options, including pre-sliced and whole jowls.
  • Amazon: Guanciale

When purchasing guanciale, it is important to look for high-quality products that are made with minimal additives and preservatives. It is also recommended to purchase from reputable retailers to ensure the product is fresh and safe to consume.

Overall, while guanciale may not be as widely available as other cured meats, it can still be found at a variety of specialty stores and online retailers for those looking to try their hand at making this delicious Italian ingredient at home.

Flavor Profile of Guanciale

Guanciale, a specialty of central Italy, is a cured pork jowl that has a unique and distinct flavor profile. Its flavor is rich, savory, and meaty, with a subtle sweetness that comes from the curing process.

The curing process involves rubbing the pork jowl with a blend of black pepper, hot chili, and dried rosemary, which gives guanciale its signature flavor. The spices used in the curing process also add a subtle spiciness and herbal note to the meat.

Guanciale has a high fat content, which contributes to its rich and meaty flavor. The fat also adds a smooth and creamy texture to the meat, making it perfect for use in pasta dishes and other Italian recipes.

One of the most unique aspects of guanciale is its umami flavor. Umami is a Japanese word that describes the savory taste that is often associated with meat, mushrooms, and soy sauce. Guanciale has a strong umami flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in many Italian dishes.

Overall, guanciale has a complex and flavorful profile that sets it apart from other cured meats. Its rich, meaty flavor, subtle sweetness, and umami notes make it a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.

Pairing Guanciale with Wine

When it comes to pairing Guanciale with wine, there are a few things to keep in mind. Guanciale is a flavorful cured meat that is often used in traditional Italian dishes, and it pairs well with a variety of wines.

One popular wine to pair with Guanciale is Chianti. This red wine from Tuscany has a medium body and a high acidity that complements the richness of the meat. The tannins in Chianti also help to cut through the fat in the Guanciale, making for a balanced and enjoyable pairing.

Another red wine that pairs well with Guanciale is Barbera. This wine from the Piedmont region of Italy is known for its bright acidity and fruity flavors, which make it a great match for the salty and savory flavors of the meat.

For those who prefer white wine, a crisp and refreshing Vermentino can be a great choice. This wine from Sardinia has a bright acidity and citrusy notes that pair well with the saltiness of the Guanciale.

When pairing wine with Guanciale, it’s important to consider the other flavors in the dish as well. For example, if the Guanciale is being used in a pasta dish with a tomato-based sauce, a Sangiovese-based wine like Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino can be a great choice.

Overall, when pairing Guanciale with wine, it’s important to choose a wine with enough acidity to balance out the richness of the meat. Whether you prefer red or white wine, there are plenty of options to choose from that will complement the flavors of this delicious cured meat.

Guanciale

Common Misconceptions about Guanciale

Guanciale is a popular ingredient in many Italian dishes, but there are several misconceptions about it that need to be addressed. Here are some of the most common ones:

Misconception 1: Guanciale is the same as pancetta

While guanciale and pancetta may look similar, they are not the same. Guanciale is made from pork jowl, whereas pancetta is made from pork belly. Guanciale has a richer flavor and a firmer texture than pancetta, which makes it a better choice for many Italian dishes.

Misconception 2: Guanciale is a type of salumi

Guanciale is often grouped together with other types of salumi, but it is not technically a salumi. Salumi is a general term that refers to any type of cured meat, whereas guanciale is specifically made from pork jowl.

Misconception 3: Guanciale is difficult to find

While guanciale may not be as widely available as some other types of cured meat, it is not difficult to find if you know where to look. Many specialty food stores carry guanciale, and it can also be ordered online. But even better, just make some at home!

Misconception 4: Guanciale is unhealthy

Like any cured meat, guanciale should be consumed in moderation. However, it is not inherently unhealthy. In fact, guanciale is a good source of protein and contains healthy fats.

By understanding these common misconceptions about guanciale, you can better appreciate this delicious and versatile ingredient in your cooking.

Special Considerations when Making Guanciale

When making guanciale, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind to ensure the best possible outcome. Here are some important points to consider:

Quality of Meat

The quality of meat is crucial when making guanciale. It is recommended to use fresh pork jowls that are free from any blemishes or discoloration. The meat should be firm to the touch and have a good amount of fat.

Salt and Cure

Salt and cure are essential for making guanciale. It is important to weigh the meat and add the correct amount of salt and cure. The recommended ratio is 2.5% sea salt or kosher salt and 0.25% cure no. 2, which contains sodium nitrate. The meat should be rubbed with the salt and cure mixture and then left to cure for a few days.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature and humidity are important factors when curing guanciale. The ideal temperature for curing is between 50-60°F (10-15°C), and the humidity should be around 60%. It is important to monitor the temperature and humidity throughout the curing process to ensure the best possible outcome.

Lymph Nodes

When preparing the pork jowls for guanciale, it is important to remove the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are part of the lymphatic system. They can be found in various parts of the body, including the neck and jaw area. Removing the lymph nodes is important as they can give off a bitter taste and affect the overall flavor of the guanciale.

Storage

Once the guanciale is ready, it should be stored in a cool, dry place. It can be wrapped in parchment paper or cheesecloth and hung in a cool, dark area. It is important to check the guanciale regularly for any signs of mold or spoilage. If any mold is present, it should be wiped off with a clean cloth and the guanciale should be rewrapped.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the traditional recipe for making Italian guanciale?

The traditional recipe for making Italian guanciale involves curing hog jowl with salt, pepper, and other spices for several weeks. The curing process is essential to the flavor and texture of the finished product.

What is the difference between guanciale and pancetta?

While both guanciale and pancetta are made from pork belly, guanciale is made from the jowl or cheek of the pig, while pancetta is made from the belly. Guanciale has a richer, more intense flavor than pancetta.

How do you properly cure hog jowl for guanciale?

To properly cure hog jowl for guanciale, it should be rubbed with a mixture of salt, pepper, and other spices and then hung to dry for several weeks. The temperature and humidity of the curing environment should be carefully monitored to ensure the best results.

What are some common uses for guanciale in Italian cuisine?

Guanciale is a popular ingredient in many Italian dishes, including pasta carbonara, spaghetti alla gricia, and amatriciana sauce. It can also be used to add flavor to soups, stews, and other dishes.

Where can I find authentic guanciale in the USA?

Authentic guanciale can be difficult to find in the USA, but it can often be found at specialty Italian markets or online retailers. It is important to look for high-quality, imported guanciale to ensure the best flavor and texture.

What are some tips for achieving crispy guanciale in a recipe?

To achieve crispy guanciale in a recipe, it should be cooked over low heat until the fat has rendered and the meat is crispy. It is important to avoid cooking it too quickly or at too high a temperature, as this can cause it to become tough and chewy.

Do you have other Charcuterie Videos?

Yes! we do, here is a list:
Dry-Aged Steak In Butter
Make Lardo: The Easiest and Best-Tasting Recipe EVER!
Step by Step Cured ROLLED PANCETTA

Do you have any other videos? Yes here are our latest ones:

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Cooking With An Italian

Ciao I am Piero coming all the way from Puglia Italy. I created this site to bring my love of food to all, hope you enjoy.